It's been about 11 months since the passing of Steve Jobs. While Steve didn't manage Apple much in his last days, his shadow was ever-present on the Infinity Loop campus throughout his battle with cancer. His perfectionist character, and his requirement that Apple delivers the absolute best products the market had ever seen, is slowly fading.
Tim Cook has a much different management style than Steve. While Steve was intuitive in what he thought was right, Tim is more calculating. Think of an artist versus a rocket scientist. Steve was a showman, who enjoyed delivering presentations about what Apple had been doing in secret the last year or two. Tim is not a showman. While Tim sounds like Steve on stage, thanks to the script writers at TBWA\CHIAT\Day, Tim's presentations are no where as dynamic as Steve's time on stage. So with that background we now find ourselves here, at "MapGate".
When Apple launched the iPhone 4 people complained about signal strength. If you held the iPhone 4 with your left hand you could noticeably kill signal strength by about half. This quickly became known as "AttenaGate." Steve Jobs had to return from early from a vacation in Hawaii to quell the frustrations of the media and masses that the iPhone 4 didn't suck. Matter of fact the iPhone 4 had the same issue as every other phone on the market — attenuation. If you held the iPhone 4 a certain way you blocked its ability to get a good signal. But this was also true of every other phone on the market. Steve did a masterful job of explaining the issue and then backing it up with video. To add a cherry to the top of his presentation he said Apple would ship iPhone 4 bumpers for free to those who purchased the iPhone 4 within a certain time frame. The bumper negated the attenuation issue, but not everyone was using one. Soon AttenaGate was over and the iPhone 4 went on to be the clear market winner.
When Apple launched the iPhone 5 people began complaining about Apple's new Maps.app. Maps are one of the key reasons one buys a smart phone. Therefore going "backwards" is a big sin for most users. But that is what happened. Apple removed Google Maps and replaced it with their own version — a worse version. This problem can be dubbed as "MapGate". Today Tim Cook posted a letter on Apple's website apologizing and stating Maps will continue to get better over time. My bet is that MapGate will go on quite some time. Google, Samsung, Microsoft and others are likely to use this admission of inferiority against Apple in all sorts of ads.
The way Steve handled a public problem and the way Tim did is very different. We are seeing a different kind of Apple. While both problems with iPhone launches were met with public uproar (probably over blown uproar because that's what you get when your company's reputation is near-perfection), Steve never apologized. Instead he almost was angry that he had to cut his vacation short. Yet, his presentation and solution, killed AttenataGate that day. On the other hand, Tim's admission that the Maps.app is problematic and that Apple is working hard really shows poor judgment and weakness rarely seen under Jobs tenure.
Our guess is that while AttenaGate ended after Steve's presentation, MapGate will continue for quite some time, and as mentioned, above give competitors a big target to shoot for when promoting their smart phones.